(Part 2 of 2)
Zwingli was the more level headed of the Reformers, especially when compared to Martin Luther. This was best exhibited in their disagreement over the nature of the Lord’s Supper. Luther maintained, though they weren’t there physically, somehow the body and blood of Christ were present in the Lord’s Supper. Zwingli would say that the whole supper was figurative, an act of remembrance. The debate got so harsh that Luther would eventually refuse to stand with Zwingli and even call him a heretic.
Zwingli, who had often praised Luther, even calling him the Hercules who had slain the boar of Rome, was distraught at the pride of the man. So the Swiss and German Reformations would remain separate.
A more desperate battle however loomed on the horizon. The Swiss Catholics feared what was happening in Zurich, so they assembled an army that had one goal, invade Zurich and convert it back to Catholicism by force. Zwingli saw the situation as dire and so a defensive force was quickly mustered and Zwingli himself put on his armour to lead the defense. The battle was a massacre, with many lying dead, Zwingli himself among them.
A contemporary historian of Zwingli, Myconius, had this to say of his death:
“Three times Zwingli was thrown to the ground by the advancing forces but in each case he stood up again. On the fourth occasion a spear reached his chin and he fell to his knees saying, “They can kill the body but not the soul.” And after these words, he fell asleep in the Lord.”
Bullinger, a friend of Zwingli was there to witness the events and had this to say:
“So the renowned Mr. Ulrich Zwingli, true minister and servant of the churches of Zurich, was found wounded on the battlefield along with his flock (with whom he remained until his death). There, because of his confession of the true faith in Christ, our only Saviour, the mediator and advocate of all believers, he was killed by a captain who was a pensioner, one of those against whom he had always preached so eloquently.”
Zwingli’s life may have ended, but his message did not.
Next we will look at John Calvin